Spotting Comet C/2012 S1 ISON in the Daytime

Astrophotography is not normally a daytime activity, but there are exceptions. If a comet is bright enough, about magnitude -2 or brighter, it is possible to spot the comet in the middle of the day. Comet C/2012 S1 ISON may very well be visible near the Sun in the middle of the day.

C/2006 P1McNaught
C/2006 P1 McNaught while 5° from the Sun on Jan 14,2007
The comet will pass through perihelion on November 28th. At a mere 1,860,000km (1,150,000miles) this will be a close pass indeed. As perihelion is measured from center to center, the distance is even closer if you consider the 695,500km (432,200mile) radius of the Sun. Subtracting the solar radius you realize the comet will pass a mere 1,165,000km (724,000miles) above the surface of the Sun. At this distance the intensity of the solar radiation will be nineteen thousand times more intense than a sunny day on Earth.

This sort of solar intensity will cause the comet to emit enormous amounts of gas and dust. It is this cloud of material around the comet, the coma and tail, reflecting the sunlight that makes the comet bright.

Continue reading “Spotting Comet C/2012 S1 ISON in the Daytime”